It has been billed as a ‘Christmas cracker’ and both Leinster and Bath will be trying to live up to that billing when the two sides meet at the Aviva Stadium this Saturday evening in the pool stages of the Heineken Cup, kick off 6.00pm.
Despite last weekend’s five point win in Bath, Joe Schmidt knows that his side could and should have won by more. A number of clear cut chances from the likes of Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney were not converted at The Rech which left the defending champions holding on at times during the eighty minutes.
That been said Schmidt will be looking forward to Saturday’s game knowing that his side are playing well and creating opportunities. Leinster played well in patches last week and will need to put together a more complete performance in front of an expectant crowd at the Aviva.
Leinster have no fresh injury concerns ahead of the game which should mean a similar starting 15 to the one that got the job done last weekend. A lot of eyes will be on Sean O’ Brien after some rather choice comments were made in an English newspaper about the ‘Tullow Tank’ and his actions at the breakdown.
Speaking ahead of the game Joe Schmidt knows his side have to be more clinical this weekend “We want to be a lot more accurate to make sure we finish opportunities that we create. “The frustration was that we couldn’t get the ball over their line. (last weekend) We appeared to have a couple of gilt-edged chances”.
Bath will take heart from their display against Leinster, however Sir Ian McGeechan knows just how difficult Saturday will be, in a game that his side must win to stay in the competition.
“ Leinster have got huge experience and they have got good players in key positions. When you win Europeans Cups, that’s what you get. You know how to do it, you’ve been there before, and so it grows.
“They bided their time very well, and that is experience. That is a good team with good players reading the situation well.”
One has the feeling that if Bath were ever going to beat Leinster it was last weekend. It is hard to fathom that Leinster will be as sloppy as they were at times last weekend and they are selected to win on Saturday night.
Leinster over 12.5 points is a good bet and should be backed.